Sunday, July 31, 2005

My Book Of Dreams 

Dream 12
In my dream I’m being awarded a medal by Prince Charles.
There are quite a few of us, and we’re standing in rows like soldiers on a parade ground.
There are several awardees on the first and third rows, but I’m alone on the second row, standing at the far end from where Prince Charles is. I wave a bit too enthusiastically to catch his attention.

I’m given my medal and, like all the other awardees, receive a tuna sandwich to go with it. I explain that I gave the organisers plenty of prior notice that I’m a vegetarian, and I want my vegetarian sandwich, thank you very much.
Charles says that I have to accept what I’m given, but I reply that if he’s not prepared to listen to me or respect my wishes - I don’t eat tuna sandwiches! - then it makes the whole ceremony meaningless, an empty gesture.
We quarrel about this for some time, but it’s obvious there aren’t any vegetarian sandwiches anyway, so I might as well take the sodding tuna sandwich and pass it on to Girlfriend later.

Afterwards, I realise it would have made a better news story if I’d refused to accept the sandwich at all - “Lancashire Man Refuses Sandwich From Prince Charles!” - and feel like I’ve let myself and other vegetarians down in this respect.
I have no idea what I’d done to deserve the award in the first place.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some Candy Talking 

Competition is heating up in the office to see who can bring the most revolting sweets back from holiday.
The nations represented so far in our Eurovision Sweet Contest are Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Greece.

The Greeks have it at the moment, with a foul hard boiled concoction, crunchy on the outside, slimy on the inside, tasting vaguely of liquorice and mustard.
I tried one and my tongue instantly turned green and I couldn’t shake “I wonder if one day that you’ll say that you care. If you say you love me madly I’ll gladly be there, like a puppet on a string” out of my head for the whole of Wimbledon fortnight.

Hard on their heels come the Spanish with Jelly Flops, a toxic fruit pastille variant, reminiscent of the Irish Sea.

The Eurosweets sit glowing on Stella’s filing cabinet, softly pulsating in their plastic bags like funfair goldfish on acid.
Nobody wants to eat them, not even Mike, but no one knows how to dispose of them safely either, so we leave them quietly buzzing in a state of radioactive-confectionary-waste-limbo, fruitlessly hoping that they’ll somehow go away by themselves and become someone else’s problem.

Terry and Tabs return from France on Monday and we’re already holding our breaths.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Hissing Of Summer Lawns 

“Look at that,” said Rex, the senior statesmen of our two security guards, smearing a meaty finger across my monitor.
“Played none. Goal difference none. Points none. That’s the highest they’ll be all season. Burnley - second in the league in alphabetical order.”

Two weeks to go until the new season starts, and Rex and Spike are chomping at the bit. Rex has been a North End supporter man and boy, and to take the stick of rock analogy, if you chopped him in half he would say “Disappointed” all the way through.

David Beckham played for Preston, you know. Did you know that?” he asks you apropos of nothing, every single day.
“We taught him everything. Look at him now. Raking it in. Never mind gold plated toilet seats, we should be seeing some of that. David Beckham, ladies and gentleman, Captain of England. Learned his trade at Deepdale. Did you know that?”

Mornings and lunchtimes are their busiest times, but from three o’clock onwards you can often find them kicking a ball around outside their security hut.

It’s not even August and everything is done for. Everywhere you look the grass is straw yellow, dead, the hard ground dry as old bones. Only dandelions thrive now. In every home a dustbowl. We are all made of stars.

But while we’ve been stretched out in the shade panting like dogs, Rex has turned his hut-side garden into an oasis. Nasturtiums up the flagpole, dahlias by the door. Glorious washes of pansies dripping down from window boxes like waterfalls, clematis climbing the goalposts. Over there, past the sunflowers, that lush green goalmouth you see Spike diving about in - it didn’t happen by accident.

The garden gets a good soaking while Rex does his last rounds, the scent of late evening dog roses hanging prettily in the air like the paragliders you see high above Wolf Fell, out towards Chipping, Duke of Westminster Country.
Then he cuts a huge bunch of sweet peas to take home to Mrs. Rex, purple and violet and scarlet and cream, switches off the lights and the next morning, what do you know, they’ve all grown back again.

The fearless protector of our souls, all sixteen stone of him, gardener at the gates of work, Uncle Rex: something is troubling him and it’s this. It stops him dead in his tracks. Nips at his heels through lumbering sweat soaked dreams. Stalks him down the dark foreboding corridors of his mind. Two terrible words.

Hosepipe ban.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Groop Played Space Age Bachelor Pad Music 

If you could possess just one super-power, which would you choose?
I would like to have charm, please. I already have opposable thumbs and tremendous good looks: if only I could throw charm into the mix I could be a force to be reckoned with.

Juggling Protégé, my juggling protégé, oozes the stuff and I’m so jealous.
He tends to keep his orbits separate - I’m guessing he has more circles of friends than I have friends - but me and Girlfriend felt honoured indeed to be invited back to his space age bachelor pad with the suggestively silky plasterwork on Saturday for what was probably just one of many flat warmings.
We bought him some proper juggling balls for a present. I decided he’s ready to move on from limes. We marked the occasion with an entirely non-sexual man hug.

For cast and crew see the previous post, then add my Future Canoeing Instructor - I’m still stalling on this, but I would like to have been canoeing, honest - and assorted extras.

The usual nonsense was discussed, including “What games did you play as kids” - Sarah’s was playing at car parking, which was hysterical, you probably had to be there, etc. - and “Have you ever shoplifted?”
For the record, no I’ve never shoplifted, although a few years ago a hopelessly shambolic major retailer was kind enough to gift me about £300 worth of stuff. They were stupid and did it all by themselves really. I just stood and watched.

We were also treated to one half of a very funny mobile phone conversation. Sarah’s husband rang up sounding forlorn and worse for drink after an evening in the company of wagon drivers that didn’t live up to expectations.

“No Billy, you’re not going into the house until you’ve hosed it off. I want to hear that hosepipe.”
She was patient and kind with him, while maintaining a firm tone and sending out a clear signal. It was truly heart warming. Charlie said “Oh that’s so sweet! I want a husband like that!”
“No Billy, you’re just making a hosepipe noise. If you go inside the house, you’re dead. Hosepipe, Billy. The real hosepipe.”

Next time we go back I’m taking my own binoculars. When Juggling Protégé said there’s a woman who sometimes walks about in the nip in the flats across the way, Leanne instantly commandeered his set and wouldn’t let anybody else get a look in, not for hell or high water. It was the only downside to an otherwise entertaining evening.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

And Maybe Later On After The Late Late Show, We Can Go To Your Room, I Can Try On Your Clothes 

On Tuesday evening we took a spin out to the People’s Republic of Liverpool.
A happy band of Leanne, Charlie, Juggling Protégé, Girlfriend and me went to one of those ‘all the hot chilli sauce you can drink’ establishments before heading on up to the university to see the artist they call Josh Rouse.

It was our first time with Josh and I enjoyed him very much.
He seemed a little disengaged at first, but it’s marvellous what a bit of banter with a pair of stoned scousers can do for you, and he was soon grinning rather than scowling while he rocked the house.
Why isn’t he selling out much larger venues? Nashville is a simply wonderful album, sexy and cool, much like the little fellow himself, and afterwards I snapped up his entire back catalogue from a man with a trestle table.

We walked back to Juggling Protégé’s groovy city centre bachelor pad - beautiful crisp plasterwork, a joy to rub yourself up against - then left very late and crashed even later at Leanne’s. Her spare room is fast becoming a home from home for me and Girlfriend, and next time we’re taking a pot of paint and some book cases and claiming squatter’s rights.

In the morning I dashed home to hook this up to that, and recorded myself trying to sound urbane on the radio. Credit where it’s due to Philo for a top notch job with the cut and paste.

After that I went for a longer than usual run - which was already too long in the first place - to wipe the grin off my face and teach myself a lesson.
On Precipitous Edge a dozen tracksuited gorillas wedgied into a Nissan Dwarf tooted their horn and cheered me along in a manner that made me jump out of my skin and shriek mildly. I waved back and cursed myself for forgetting to vaseline my nipples.

I was a tad anxious this morning that Stella might say “So you think I should lose the self help books, do you?” but I needn’t have worried.
Instead, she sat on my credenza swinging her legs and said rather wistfully, “You know, Tim, when I left school I was voted the girl most likely to.”
I said “They call me Mister Boombastic but you don’t hear me bragging about it.”

Monday, July 18, 2005

Like Dylan In The Movies 

On Sunday morning I saw creepy Keith from accounts in Morrisons.
He was wearing a linen suit, with bandana and black winklepicker boots. Sunglasses nestled atop a thick crop of curly hair. He looked like Bob Dylan circa Don’t Look Back, dressed up as the man from Delmonte for a day of peace, love and fruit canning at Haight Astbury.
A sulky little girl, maybe ten or eleven years old, followed a few yards behind. She looked old enough to hate her Dad already, and was emphatically not wearing flowers in her hair.

Needless to say, I did my utmost to avoid him and it occurred to me that work colleagues could be categorised thus: the ones you would go up to for a chat if you saw them in the supermarket at the weekend, and those you wouldn’t.

I know I give her a lot of stick, but I do have a certain affection for Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader. Yes, I’m sure I would pop over and say hi, and I’m certain she’d do the same.
Her trolley would be full of makeup and Chardonnay and I’d probably find her in the magazine aisle, fretfully filling out questionnaires of the “OK, so you’re a great lay, but does anybody actually like you?” variety.
The answer is yes, Stella, I do like you. I admire your blithe spirit in the face of overwhelming reality, and your ballsy indifference to the same gloom that frequently swamps me. I envy your drive.
I just wish you’d sometimes slow down a bit, to notice and revel in the absurdity of everything everywhere, and perhaps get a new wardrobe. You could be the real deal. But lose the self help books, OK? They only exist to make you feel crap.

Terry and Tabs definitely pass the supermarket test. Terry would have loaded up on curry sauce and naan breads, while Tabs would be all fresh fruit and soft furnishings.
She would tell you what a nice evening she’d had yesterday, with some girly friends round for a DVD and a sleepover, while Terry would tell you how he was killing aliens into the early hours and how him and this German kid and some guy called Monster Mash from Croyden totally kicked ass, it was mega.
Terry and Tabs had the most convoluted and frankly unlikely courtship ever in the history of getting it on, which is summarised in an hilarious clip show episode here.

Neil, my former team leader, would be too busy chasing the manager around the building and shouting “Do you have frog’s legs? Well? Do you?” The issue would never arise. Boxes and boxes of croutons.

Mike and I would exchange cursory nods, but no more. Mars bars, beer and man-size tissues.

Bill Surname, Chief Executive Officer, has a man to do that sort of thing for him. Expensive whiskey and cheeses.

Charlotte, Bill’s loyal PA, I would avoid at all costs. She would talk incessantly about her problems and how the medication isn’t working and later say that it was, and just as you were about to finally pull yourself away from her, she would say, “Oh I’m sorry. Who did you say you were?” Catfood, a half size loaf of bread and prescription sleeping pills.

Ash and Zippy wouldn’t be in the supermarket. They’d be outside pulling stunts on their skateboards. I’d probably go and say hi, but would feel a bit shy if they were with all their cool skatepunk mates.

Diana, Head of Marketing. Obviously. Fresh cut flowers, sun tan lotion and oven ready chips.

Spike the security guard claims he never goes to supermarkets. His wife works at Asda and he says she nicks all they need.

This morning creepy Keith came up to me and said “Oi! I said hello to you yesterday and you completely blanked me.”
I genuinely hadn’t noticed. I would never to do that to anyone. Honestly.
He said he was down here running some errands for his Mum who’s not well, and we had a bit of a chat about this and that, and god damn it, for a while there he had me feeling guilty.

What kind of person have I become? A snob who turns his nose up at colleagues and sniffily avoids them in supermarkets because they might cramp his style?
No Keith, I couldn’t possibly talk to you, even if your mother is on her way out, I’m far too important for that now. Don’t you read the papers? Ring my secretary and see if she can find a window for you next week.

Then he asked if I’d noticed the girl working in the fruit and veg aisle, how well stacked she was - “I’d certainly like to test her fucking melons for juiciness and flavour, etc.” - and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, the natural order of things was restored, and once again all was well in the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Love Cry Of The Travelling Man Goes “No One Knows Who I Am” 

On Friday afternoon you’d have found me wandering around Manchester city centre, feeling light headed, not really going anywhere in particular, just blending in with the sunshine, drifting among the crowds, ebbing and floatage. You could say I was A Free Man In Piccadilly Gardens. I had an overwhelming urge to buy gifts for my nearest and dearest, and ended up in HMV - a store that normally brings me out in a state of mild panic after a couple of minutes - taking my time, living in the moment, buying stuff. After all, I had unlimited free parking in the BBC car park and it seemed churlish to waste it.

The previous Friday, the day before this blog was Guardianised - and hello and welcome to new readers, please enjoy in moderation, etc. - I received an email from Philo Holland, a very nice man and a journalist with the BBC.
He’d been asked to contribute a piece on blogging for BBC Radio 5 Live, and was looking for someone local to Manchester with “a popular, unusual and amusing blog.” Would I be able to help?
Ever the fledgling media whore, apparently hell bent on self destruction - a sort of Pete Doherty with a 3-times-a-week blogging habit - I said sure, why not?

A week later and I was in Philo’s little office on Oxford Road, shooting the breeze with him and his colleague Derek Ivens, also a very nice man, not that I’m trying to pit them against each other in a Battle Of The Very Nice Men.
They said that in the winter, when the trees were bare, there were cracking views to be enjoyed of the ballet school across the road. I took a long look, but saw no ballerinas. The sun shone brightly through the leaves.
Here I was, standing in the very building from which Simon Armitage reads poetry to the nation, and me in particular. I felt calm on the outside, slightly giddy on the inside.

Derek told me about a friend and colleague of his - Stuart Hughes - who writes a blog, and had I read it? I said I hadn’t, but I’ve seen it now. Fucking amazing stuff.
It started out as a ‘journalist working in Iraq blog’, then all too quickly became a ‘journalist with an amputated leg blog’.
By now, I felt I was getting on OK with Derek and flippantly wise-cracked “Does he have a big following among the amputee blogging community?”
It was intended as a little half-joke but somehow it went over his head and he replied, straight faced “Yes, but also in the general blogging community at large” or words to that effect, and I felt such an arsehole for sounding like I was taking the piss out of his friend after all the crap he’d been through.
I should have said so at the time but didn’t, so I’ll say it now - sorry Derek.
Amputation humour: an easy one for the novice to mis-judge. Oops.
I said something about how my blog’s nothing like that, mine’s just a load of old bollocks, and he said “No - stupid’s good. Stupid’s very good,” which I thought was extraordinarily gracious.

We left Derek reading AFMIP and moved into the little studio next door.
Philo asked me to read a few choice segments from Wednesday’s ‘Fast Car’ post. He insisted I couldn’t say “Twat Brothers” and suggested Twit instead. I negotiated hard and we settled on “Prat Brothers.” I was feeling pretty bullish at this point.
He asked me to tap at a keyboard while I read, to make it sound as if I was thinking aloud while writing a real post.
I was useless and couldn’t do it. I would read a bit, then frantically type like mad for a few seconds, then read a bit more, and it just wasn’t working darling. It ended up with him holding the microphone in one hand, randomly typing with the other, and me trying to read.

Next he interviewed me about how I started blogging, what kind of buzz I get from it - instant, if short lived gratification - and what sort of things people comment about. I mentioned the recent Homer Simpson / Sideshow Bob rake debacle. I’m glad that commenters here seem to know that it’s OK to take the piss. I didn’t explain it very well and it’ll probably be cut.
Other stuff. Why do I blog under a pseudonym? I dunno, I just do.
How often do I blog? I replied something poncey and high-minded about whenever I want to, and not when I think I should.

I gabbled. I gabbled like a hyperventilating pre-teen enjoying a private back stage audience with Britney Spears, which took me by surprise.
I’d fully expected to dry up - think footballer, randomly chosen to provide a urine sample, shorts down and pulling a funny face, barely producing a dribble. I’m like David Beckham in so many ways.
As it transpired, I was spraying all over the place, splashing into the plastic cup and out of it, the full twin jets treatment. I so gabbled.

Philo was very patient. I’ve not witnessed such patience since the bloke at the opticians wasted a whole afternoon trying to teach me to insert contact lenses.
At one point I said, more than a little fatuously “Well, it’s not as if anybody ever listens to 5 Live, is it?” to which he replied that they get two million listeners.

Two million? Fuck.
At that exact moment, I became two million per cent less funny.
I looked on aghast as right before my very eyes, all my former witticisms transformed into wankicisms. I turned cool clear waters into piss.

Being clever while typing into a computer is a far cry from being clever talking into a microphone.
My aim here is to appear effortless and erudite, but the truth is anything but. I grasp and fumble for words. The thesaurus gets a frequent seeing to.
With a microphone under my nose and the mini-disc rolling, I didn’t feel quite so smart. I was outplayed all over the park.

Eventually Philo switched off the microphone and we fell into a pattern of just chatting and if I said anything usable - hah! - he’d switch the mic back on and we’d repeat it for the mini-disc. A very strange way to hold a conversation. I’m worried that because I’d already said my piece once and was now repeating it, to the listener it may sound like I was a wee bit too sure of myself, cocky, too knowing.
Try to imagine a job interview where there is no job at the end of the line, and selected highlights of the nervous twatty things you say are broadcast to two million people. Bloody fantastic. I don’t even have a Lancashire accent.

I can’t remember which pieces of the conversation were committed to mini-disc and which weren’t. I don’t think I said anything bad, but can’t be sure. Please please please understand that if I cause any offence to anybody, at all, anywhere, I apologise fulsomely and unreservedly. I was swimming with my boots on. I only had a small breakfast.

I dropped in the occasional prepared ad-lib. At one point I said “Sorry, I was just thinking about sex. Could you repeat the question?” which seemed amusing when I thought of it in the car on the way down, but, you know, it stank of inexperience.

Derek was still reading my blog when we came out of the studio half an hour or so later. He complimented me on it being very funny, and I told him to get a life. I’m a real people person.
We chatted some more, then I checked my flies, stepped once again into the famous Manchester sunshine and went CD shopping. I kept my visitor’s pass as a souvenir.

The journey home was timed to coincide with rush hour, so that fellow travellers could take a good look and say to each other “Hey, isn’t he the guy who writes that blog? You know - the one about Prestatyn? He’s alright, but he’s no Magnetic Kid Liv.”

I’ve been promised it’s going out on Wednesday July 20th, some time between 9:00am and midday.
There’ll be about two minutes of heavily edited me - two minutes? Bloody hell, what have I been getting so up myself about? Surely there’ll have been enough of me not coming on like a sanctimonious dickhead to fill two minutes - followed by ten minutes or so of the excellent Richard Herring, who’ll be analysing the very latest blogging news, live in the studio as events unfold.
And then he’ll get off the bus.

I distributed gifts to the appropriate recipients, and told my step-sons that I’m 95% certain I’m going to sound like a complete tosser. They didn’t try to persuade me otherwise, although I detected some kudos for the Richard Herring connection.

I hope Leanne likes hardcore Bavarian euphonium techno. I wasn’t thinking at all. My body was in HMV: my mind was still down a corridor dimly at the BBC.
Later on that evening she sent Girlfriend an email saying that I am to remember who my real friends are.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Fast Car 

This morning Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, sidled up to my desk and said she’d got a big ask. I didn’t hear her properly and agreed, only realising when it was too late that I’d said yes to joining her for a meeting in Sheffield with Twat Brothers, one of my least favourite customers.

Twat Brothers don’t manufacture low rent kitchen and bathroom suites in Sheffield, but for the sake of leaving false trails and trying to protect my identity, let’s pretend they do. They actually design orthopaedic shoes for the fashionably late in a former butcher’s shop in Buxton, but that’s by the by.

Before starting the engine, Stella closed her eyes, paused for a few moments as if in prayer, then let out a terrifying sound like the love cry of Anne Widdecombe on a hen night in Blackpool. Ooooooomm! Ooooooooomm! Waaaaargh! Ooooommm! She stretched out her upturned palms, shook violently for about ten seconds, then fell silent again.
Eventually she said “Do you like whale music?” to which I replied absolutely fucking not, so she slipped some Humpbacks Of The Eastern Seaboard into the CD player and away we sped to Sheffield.

Stupid stupid stupid. I’ve never been made to feel so terrified in the name of customer relations and hell will freeze over before I agree to let her take me up Snake Pass ever again.

Prince, the IT manager at Twat Brothers has a head shaped like a gnarled bone, lumps missing from his ears and nose, and firm doesn’t begin to describe his handshake.
He invited us to sit on the toilet, the only seating that was ready to hand in his office. I chose the white one, Stella went for champagne with brass trim.
They’re having truckloads of problems with their servers, which are so decrepit you fear they may crumble to dust if you so much as breathe near them. My mission was to explain this with baffling technical jargon and pie charts - mmmm, pies - while Stella’s role was to talk money and promise unobtainable IT related happiness.

Prince stared at us like he was about to throw us out of a nightclub, but he took away our blurb and said he’d talk it over with “the knob heads upstairs.” They probably won’t do anything. The knob heads seldom do.

Back in the car, Stella was all high fives and You’re A Tiger, and I’ve no idea where she gets her energy or optimism. She spent the journey back to Preston talking excitedly on her blue tooth phone thingy, but I couldn’t be sure if there was actually anybody on the other end.

I had a bit of a snooze and woke up with dribble all down my shirt and the majestic and inspirational sound of whales doing the hokey cokey ringing around my head.

Monday, July 11, 2005


All day long it’s been “Incoming honeys! Nine o’clock!” and all the blokes in our office simultaneously gawping out of the window behind where Terry sits, the one with last year’s FHM calendar on the windowsill, four heads spinning in unison, Olympic standard synchronised oglers.
Guess what? Summer’s arrived and we’ve become a school of bug-eyed fish in a bowl, twisting and turning as one, easily led, slaves to the forces of nature.

Marks out of ten are awarded in the key categories: body, subdivided into arse, legs and what creepy Keith from accounts describes as having “a great rack”; face; dress sense; and finally, whether you would.
The four points of the compass, the North South East and West of Womankind, neatly objectified and summarised in a series of aggregate scores, charted on the whiteboard for later reflection.

Stella, our eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, calls out from behind a barricade of desk fans to tell us that we’re a pathetic bunch of sad losers - which nobody attempts to deny - but we’ve all seen her checking out the girls as well, vaguely lustfully, taking notes, measuring herself up against them, on red alert for imminent threats or potential soul-mates-and-who-knows-what after a few bottles of Chateaux Ormskirk on a sultry summer’s evening.
Hot bustling streets below, the cool diesel shade of the multi-story car park, let us act upon our feelings now and deliver us not into emptiness, nobody knows what tomorrow might bring. Emotions running high.

We’re enjoying a heat wave here in Preston, if enjoying is the correct term. Body odour levels are reaching critical mass and there’s still no sign of air conditioning on the horizon. Everybody gone stir crazy.

This morning Bill Surname, Chief Executive Officer, sent out an email imploring everyone to take all possible precautions in the current climate, but as per usual, nobody has a clue whether he means this, or that.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

It's The Nighttime, Baby, Don't Let Go Of My Love 

My Mum is not a technical whizz. She calls me at all hours for impromptu VCR master classes, jittery and panicking because she forgot what we learned in Lesson One: Sliding the video cassette into the slot.
“It’s starting, it’s starting. Can’t you come round? I’m missing Aled Jones. No, it won’t go. All I’m getting is football.”
I receive a call when the central heating/water heater timer needs re-programming, which manages to go wonky ‘all by itself’ about once a week; it’s not unknown for her to ring me up asking how to use the phone.

She transformed my Dad into a gibbering wreck through many fraught years of driving lessons, so with all this in mind I thought it would be funny if, for her 80th birthday, we bought her a pilot’s training lesson. It was originally going to be a surprise, but I lost my nerve on the final straight and blabbed, thus giving her time to load up on valium or even pull out altogether.
To her credit she went through with the flight and loved every moment. Even when there was a last minute cock up with the booking - all the Cherokees were out and would she mind going up in something slightly bigger - she held her courage. She said the pilots were all charming.

I’ve got more brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces, great step-nephews and step-nieces etc. than you can shake a stick at, and goodness knows I’ve tried. I don’t know all of their names and I certainly wouldn’t recognise some of them if I passed them in the street. What that says about me as an uncle I’m not sure, but it was an absolute treat to have them all at our house, scooting about, high on sugary drinks and starting free form jazz combos in my Attic Studio Complex.

Girlfriend played an absolute blinder, broken wrist and all, preparing a mountain of food and baking a cake, while I spent the morning slumped in the corner nursing the hangover of a lifetime. Stupid does not get stupider than getting hammered the night before a big family event. Thanks, love. I’ll try to make it up to you somehow.

There were even surprise guest appearances by long lost aunts and uncles, teleported in from a time called Way Back, and I’m confident Mum will be yakking embarrassingly about this for months to come.

A decent weekend then. Everybody admired the garden, some interfering tree hugger has grassed me up to Lentil Boiler’s Gazette, and to top it off, Girlfriend has booked tickets for a gang of us to see one of our new favourites. Cool.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Come Undone 

Stella - my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader - was on the phone to one of her mates. I think she was dispensing courtship advice.
“One word, Babe: decolletage.”

I stood in the doorway, waiting politely to speak with her.

“Undo a few buttons. Not one. A few.”
She winked at me and gestured that she wouldn’t be long.
“Works every time,” she continued. She fixed her eyes on mine. “You can show him your brains later.”

I smiled weakly and looked at my shoes.

“Speaking of droopy tits, Tim wants to tell me something. Yeah, I’ll catch you later, Lover. Ciao Baby.”

She put the phone down and I completely forgot what I was going to say. I returned to my desk feeling a little deflated.
Business as usual here then.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Deep In The Rain Of Sparks 

I must have driven past the rather fine Reebok Stadium hundreds of times, home of Big Sam’s Bolton Wanderers, but Monday was the first time I’ve been inside it. It was great, as were Elbow and Coldplay, who me and Girlfriend had gone there to see.

After a dull morning at work – only point of interest being told for the second year in succession that I’d been awarded a 0% pay rise; if only I’d thought to put a bet on that I could have made some money – I met Girlfriend at her office and we went to a sticky brown pub for lunch.

Inside the stadium, there was much confusion of the “You’re in our seats,” “No we’re not” variety, as tickets had been issued for the Lofthouse Stand and the East Stand – two names for the same actual stand. It kept the marshals busy all evening, in a “What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?” kind of way. At least we didn’t get completely soaked, like the people down on the pitch.

Elbow - paradoxically both achingly beautiful and bearded - were wonderful and we hope to see them somewhere small soon.
Coldplay were excellent too, and clearly have the uncanny knack of being able to make a stadium show seem cosy and intimate. For a finale, they filmed us not once but twice for the video of Fix You – that’s me in the orange sackcloth smock, bodypopping on Girlfriend’s shoulders, you won’t miss me.
Then we spent an hour and three quarters waiting to leave the grid locked car park, finally crawling out at 12:45. You’d have thought they could have come out and busked to pass the time. Still, a top night.

Let the record also state that we had a really good weekend. We stopped over at lovely Leanne’s, watching Live 8 with Charlie, my Juggling Protégé and others.
It felt good to know that we were sharing a common experience with millions of people around the world: namely, wondering how the hell Velvet Revolver managed to get that gig, and shouting at the telly for them to get off NOW! because they were shit.

Interesting fact: did you know that at any moment during the twenty years since the original Live Aid, somebody somewhere in the world has been pregnant with one or more of Sting’s children?

We discussed the rich comedy minefield that is unintended charity wristband combinations and on Sunday we returned to the llama fields for auditing.

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